22 LA Startups to Watch in 2022

Meet the young companies heating up the local tech market this year.
Written by Rachael Millanta
February 1, 2022Updated: February 3, 2022

Watch out, Silicon Valley — Los Angeles tech startups are coming in hot. 

In the first half of 2021 alone, seed deals in LA reached a record-breaking $330.2 million across 116 startups, compared to just $244 million in the same period the year before, according to Amplify’s 1H 2021 LA Seed Deal Report. On top of that, LA was ranked the fourth-best startup ecosystem in the world by StartupBlink’s 2021 report, confirming the area’s continuously growing power and reputation in the tech scene.

In May last year, virtual avatar company Genies secured an impressive $65 million in series B round investments. This was the 18th largest raise in Los Angeles in 2021 and brought the company’s financing total to over $110 million. Not far behind, mobile app Papaya Pay announced in December that it raised $50 million to expand its platform in a series B round.

Also in December, drayage marketplace Dray Alliance secured $40 million in venture capital to expand its harbor trucking platform, and even more recently on January 6, Slingshot Aerospace announced it had landed a $2 million contract with the U.S. Space Force to develop an analytics program to identify interference on the ground. 

As if all this wasn’t enough excitement for the LA tech scene, just a day later on January 7, ghost kitchen company Kitchen United opened its first location inside a Ralphs, having announced its partnership with parent company Kroger in August.

LA’s tech industry is undoubtedly on an upward trajectory of innovation with no sign of slowing down. As exciting projects continue to launch all over the City of Angels, Built In LA curated a list of 22 startups, all locally headquartered and founded in or after 2016, that you need to have on your radar in the coming year.

 

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What they do: Started by two college students to beat LA’s traffic problems, Automotus’ curb management solutions give cities, fleets and businesses the tools they need to navigate rapidly changing mobility ecosystems. With the goal of making streets less congested, more sustainable and more equitable, Automotus clients are able to access real-time data on curb and street activity across an extensive range of transportation modes.

Year founded: 2017

Why we’re watching: Automotus is expanding. They already hold deployments in a range of cities like Santa Monica, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh, and recently partnered with Omaha, Nebraska, to deploy up to 100 smart loading zones, allowing parking officials to monitor and maximize curb usage.

 

 

 

What they do: Founded by serial entrepreneurs Scott Painter and Georg Bauer, Autonomy (previously NXCR), is a month-to-month vehicle subscription platform working to make mobility accessible and affordable. Relying on partnerships with car dealerships and automakers, the company is innovating in financial and insurance technology to create used-car subscriptions and expand the car-as-a-service category.

Year founded: 2020

Why we’re watching: In November, NXCR completed the acquisition of the Autonomy brand and IP brand library from Micro Focus, and has now officially rebranded to Autonomy. The acquisition included the primary global domain, country and subdomain extensions, trademark applications, goodwill and related brand IP, and allowed the company to immediately become a global brand with assets in over a dozen countries.

 

 

 

What they do: Bambee supports small and medium-sized businesses by offering affordable and dedicated human resources managers to craft policy across the organization and manage compliance.

Year founded: 2016

Why we’re watching: Bambee was named in the Forbes 2021 list of America’s Best Startup Employers, and Bambee Founder and CEO Allan Jones was recognized by Goldman Sachs as one of the 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs of 2021.

 

 

 

What they do: Dray Alliance is a marketplace to connect shippers with extensive and vetted networks of proven drayage carriers. Founded by Steve Wen, who was featured in Forbes 2022 30 Under 30, the platform allows users to access real-time GPS tracking information and flexible capacity options, empowering shippers to take control of their evolving supply chain needs.

Year founded: 2017

Why we’re watching: In December, Dray Alliance secured $40 million in venture capital to expand its Los Angeles-Long Beach harbor trucking platform. This comes after the company raised $10.2 million in February 2020.

 

 

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What they do: Edify is a cloud-based global communications platform that simplifies the customer service experience by streamlining everything into one location. The platform prevents any sort of department transfers by allowing users to seamlessly switch between different channels with customers and colleagues.

Year founded: 2018

Why we’re watching: In August 2021, Edify announced that version 4.0 of its solution, Edify Huddle CX, had moved to general availability. The company secured $10 million dollars in a seed round supported by venture capital firm First Round Capital, which it announced in October 2019.

 

 

 

What they do: Founded by Arye Barnehama, who was featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 list for manufacturing, and Idealab founder Bill Gross, Elementary uses computer vision and machine learning to create affordable and human-safe intelligent robot assistants. Utilizing a demand for artificial intelligence in the physical industries, Elementary enables customers to inspect manufactured goods down to the individual parts and assemblies, with full reporting capabilities to assist production line improvements.

Year founded: 2017

Why we’re watching: In December, Elementary announced it had raised $30 million in a series B funding round led by Tiger Global, bringing the company to $47.5 million in funding since it started in 2017.

 

 

 

What they do: Elodie Games is focused on building social and cooperative online games for cross-platform play. Its goal is to make global gaming seamless and engaging, removing barriers to cross-play that many gamers accept as inevitable.

Year founded: 2019

Why we’re watching: In September, Elodie Games secured $32.5 million in funding, following a $5 million round in 2020. The co-founders of the company, Christina Norman and David Banks, both previously worked on League of Legends at Riot Games, so their resumes speak for themselves.

 

 

 

What they do: Ember Fund is the world’s first cryptocurrency hedge fund app. Users are able to easily buy into managed and curated cryptocurrency portfolios while maintaining full control of their own assets.

Year founded: 2018

Why we’re watching: In December, Ember partnered with digital invitation service Evite to offer consumers the world’s first-ever cryptocurrency gifting platform. This comes after Ember Fund secured $5.3 million in funding to build out its app in March 2021.

 

 

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What they do: Frame Fitness is a digitally connected Pilates reformer that gives users access to hundreds of full-body workout classes. The sleek, foldable reformer expands standard at-home fitness options by collaborating with world-class instructors.

Year founded: 2021

Why we’re watching: In October 2021, Frame received $5 million in funding from four fitness industry veterans, including Mark Mastrov, the founder of 24 Hour Fitness, and Jim Rowley, the CEO of Crunch Fitness Worldwide.

 

 

 

What they do: Genies is a virtual avatar technology company that allows app users to create fully personalized avatars to use on an extensive list of other apps and websites. In 2021, the company began offering non-fungible tokens in collaborations with celebrities, providing owners with the opportunity to profit through an expanded online presence and branded avatar experience.

Year founded: 2017

Why we’re watching: Genies announced an impressive $64.5 million series B fundraise in May 2021, bringing its reported fundraising total to over $110 million. Genies upgraded its headquarters in Venice to a 20,000 square foot office in Marina Del Rey. Genies has been open about its aggressive hiring goals for the coming year, and the new space, which is five times the size of the previous office, provides plenty of room to accommodate expansion.

 

 

 

What they do: Democratizing philanthropic giving, Groundswell allows companies to create personal foundations for its employees and match contributions, effectively making charitable giving an employee benefit. Users have access to tax-free investment opportunities, customized giving opportunities and multiple other tools and features to create a global impact.

Year founded: 2021

Why we’re watching: The Groundswell platform was announced in September 2021 and numerous corporations have already signed up to launch it in Q1 of this year. In November, the company announced it had raised $15 million in startup capital.

 

 

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What they do: Hidden Leaf Games is an indie game development studio working to create player vs. player video games that focus on competitive mastery, core progression and social play. The company is driven by the goal of creating games that can be played together, regardless of skill level or platform. 

Year founded: 2019

Why we’re watching: Hidden Leaf Games is remote-first with more than 50 developers across the globe. In May 2021, the company announced that it had raised $3.2 million in funding, with backing from venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners.

 

 

 

What they do: Intro is an online marketplace that allows users to book 1:1 video sessions with some of the world’s most in-demand experts. Customers are able to sit down with world-class professionals to ask for advice, guidance and general career information.

Year founded: 2020

Why we’re watching: In October, Intro announced that it had raised $10 million in seed funding, including investments from Andreessen Horowitz, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s VC firm Seven Seven Six, comedian Tiffany Haddish and basketball star Kevin Durant.

 

 

 

What they do: Kitchen United is a ghost kitchen company, providing commercial-quality kitchen space to restaurants preparing delivery-only meals. Supporting the creation of restaurants with no dine-in service and the expansion of restaurants with limited space, the company brings virtual kitchens closer to customers. 

Year founded: 2017

Why we’re watching: Kitchen United is expanding fast. Initially receiving $10 million in funding from GV (formerly Google Ventures), Kitchen United finalized a $40 million series B raise in September 2019. In August 2021, the company partnered with Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., to place ghost kitchens inside some of its grocery stores, with the first such kitchen opening in a Los Angeles Ralphs on January 7 this year.

 

 

 

What they do: LiveControl is a remote video production company. From providing equipment and assistance to controlling cameras without getting in the way, the company is reimagining live-streamed video for venues all across the country.

Year founded: 2020

Why we’re watching: In July, LiveControl announced that it had raised $30 million in series A funding, following a $3.2 million seed round in August 2020. The company plans to use this funding to accelerate its technology in video production and live-streaming as well as expand its employee headcount from 40 to 120 people by early 2023.

 

 

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What they do: Miso Robotics creates robots — like grill sensors, burger-flippers and beverage dispensers — to eliminate dirty and dangerous tasks from restaurant kitchens. With the goal of making restaurants safer and easier to work in, the platform incorporates robotics with artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision and data analytics.

Year founded: 2016

Why we’re watching: In November, Miso Robotics unveiled Flippy 2, a burger-flipping robot upgraded from a model it debuted in 2018, which is reportedly poised to join the food industry workforce in 2022. In December, the company announced it has raised $35 million in a series D funding round, bringing its fundraising total to $60 million.

 

 

 

What they do: Papaya Pay uses artificial intelligence-powered technology to allow users to pay all of their bills on a single app. Users simply upload a photo of the bill to the app, choose the payment amount and method, and Papaya Pay does the rest.

Year founded: 2016

Why we’re watching: In December, Papaya landed $50 million to expand its platform in a series B round. The company currently has 80 employees, and with this new funding Papaya states that it will substantially grow its team in the year ahead, focusing particularly on product and engineering roles.

 

 

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What they do: Party Round is a fundraising tool for founders, allowing users to automate the process from start to finish with features including signature collection and document generation. Investors are able to easily commit and earn exclusive NFTs to verify their investment.

Year founded: 2021

Why we’re watching: The company announced in November that it had raised $7 million in a seed round, including investments from Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six fund and Anish Acharya from a16z.

 

 

 

What they do: Popl is an innovative digital business card company using near-field communication technology to allow users to easily share their contact information, payment platforms and social media accounts. Popl is compatible with iOS and Android phones, and recipients do not need to be Popl users in order to have a user’s contact information shared with them.

Year founded: 2019

Why we’re watching: Co-founders Jason Alvarez-Cohen and Nick Eischens were listed on Forbes’ 2021 30 Under 30 for consumer technology and, as of July 2021, had already topped $5 million in sales.

 

 

 

What they do: Slingshot Aerospace brings the space domain into the digital environment with its space simulation and analytics solutions for government and commercial customers. The company aims to accelerate space sustainability by collecting and analyzing data from multiple sources to provide clarity in complex environments.

Year founded: 2017

Why we’re watching: On January 6, Slingshot announced it had landed a $2 million contract with the U.S. Space Force to develop an analytics program to detect and identify sources of electronic interference on the ground. This comes after already having raised an additional $17.1 million in funding since starting in 2017 and co-founder Melanie Stricklan being named one of Inc. Magazine’s 2019 Top 100 Female Founders in the United States.

 

 

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What they do: Toucan is a free internet extension that helps users learn a new language while browsing the web. The educational technology platform scans the text of whatever users are reading and converts certain words and phrases into those of a chosen language, allowing readers to learn quickly and efficiently while remaining productive on other tasks.

Year founded: 2019

Why we’re watching: In April 2021, Toucan announced it had raised an additional $4.5 million in seed funding, after $3 million in September 2020. The company plans to use this funding to continue hiring on its team as well as increasing the number of languages offered to users on its platform.

 

 

 

What they do: Founded by a team of educators, preschool owners and technology innovators in LA, WeeCare provides a marketplace-style platform to connect families with a curated list of childcare providers in their neighborhood. The company empowers American families to access vetted childcare providers and helps individuals, especially women, to start and operate their own businesses.

Year founded: 2017

Why we're watching: Access to affordable childcare has been a significant drag in the economic recovery, which is why we think it’s important to keep an eye on any employer tackling the issue. WeeCare’s newest innovation is a childcare benefits program built to enable employers to offer team members support for their childcare needs in a cost-effective way. The company credits the program for decreasing absenteeism, reducing turnover and increasing job satisfaction for clients. 

 

 

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